The presence of heavy metals in water and soil in Malwa belt of Punjab is making residents more prone to various types of cancers. The fact has been highlighted by the researchers from the central university Bathinda.
The research which is partly funded by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre includes Jajjal, Burjsema, Shekhpura, Giana, Kamalu villages. The research shows that presence of heavy metals like arsenic, selenium, lead and fluoride in water and soil therefore results in contaminating crops and vegetables used for human consumption. The area is supplying vegetables, rice and eggs to other parts of state aswell. “Around 100 villages of Bathinda and Talwandi Sabo block are having a problem of soil and water pollution. Most of the villages have a high TDS level of water up to the tune of 1,000,” shared Dr Sunil Mittal who is one of the main members of this research, while talking to Daily Post.
“Some villages are having near to 3,000 also, though the permissible limit is only upto 500 ppm,” informed Dr Sunil. “We have formed a grid of five to six kilometers for water and soil samples. Samples of blood have been collected in Bathinda district of same age groups who have problems and who are yet safe. Fertilizers use in agriculture is very high. Urea and dap have nitrates which when come into contact with water converts into harmful nitrocamine further leading to intestinal, colon and stomach cancers,” he added.
Sharing the reasons behind the increasing pollution, he said, “Higher use of pesticides in the earlier cotton belt by farmers can be cited as the main reason behind the toxification of water and soil.” According to Dr Sunil, change of crop pattern from cotton to paddy in last 15 years has also exaggerated the problem. He shared that it is a general notion that as we go down the quality of water becomes superior. But in that case, the deep water is polluted.He also shared that three hundred to five hundred deep tube wells were installed by farmers for irrigation as semi-desert area gets less amount of rains i.e 600 mm only, which had lowered down the water table of deep aquifers, That comes into contact with granite rocks and part of Aravali range hills coming from Rajasthan sides and entering malwa region from Tosham in Bhiwani district of Haryana and gets polluted with heavy metals.
He also highlighted that since farmer’s starts growing paddy in the region that water has to be used for irrigation. Here it comes into contact with soil which gets contaminated with these heavy metals. The vegetables and crop grown on this soil become harmful not only to the humans but also for the cattle that eat grass grown on this soil as the toxic metals enter their body which then is consumed by humans in form of milk. Even the eggs of hens get contaminated in the chain.
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